"The rich history of the Middle East is well-documented, so there is little that authors need to add by way of discouraging you from visiting there."
The Banana Republic
of the Middle East, named for the fictional country that causes so much trouble in The DCU
There are two or perhaps three overlapping versions: the Arabian Nights
version has a gobsmackingly rich Sultan
, smoky harem tents full of doe-eyed concubines to be put at the disposal of the Honoured Effendi, a scheming Grand Vizier
behind his back, and of course, oil. The genies and flying carpets are optional.
Another version has a Tin-pot Dictator
whose pretentious title is inversely proportional to the size of his domain. His army and air force will probably be equipped with rusting Soviet surplus. Oil is optional, America-hating terrorists are a must. It is usually located in the Middle East or Northern Africa, with Iraq, Libya and Syria as prototypes. It, however, may also be former USSR territory in Central Asia (Turkmenistan appears to be the prototype here, with its batshit insane dictator Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov).
The third version is a Jihadistan ruled by a junta of religious fanatics, imams, ayatollahs and mullahs. You are likely to see only men in the streets, with women either being locked in the homes or wearing black burqas
and escorted by men. Also either aided or opposed by a lot of big-bearded nutters
wielding AK47s, shouting "Jihad!
" and are very likely to blow themselves up for 72 virgins
. An overall squalor and apathy prevails, interrupted by occasional flag burnings, beheadings and stonings. Oil optional
. Prototypes are Taliban-era Afghanistan, the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan during its civil war, and the Tribal Zone in Pakistan; Iran appears to be a mix of types 2 and 3.
Whichever version you're in, expect Mosques, veils, scampering children demanding Baksheesh
, heat, sand, and camels. And oil. If you don't like Hummus, you'd better bring your own food
. Ironically, do not expect to hear Arab Beoble Talk
—this trope is almost unheard of in the West, so people familiar with it generally provide a more faithful depiction of Muslim countries.
Note that such a country is only Qurac if it's on Earth. Middle Eastern countries on other worlds are Fantasy Counterpart Cultures
On a side note, Qatar is the only (real) country in the world that has a name starting with "Q". On another note, the phonetic sounding of "Qurac" is identical to the word for "Dry" or "Arid" in Turkish (and possibly other regional languages).
See also Bulungi
and Banana Republic
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Anime & Manga
- Area 88 is set in the fictional Middle-Eastern nation of Asran (also spelled Aslan), following the exploits of a foreign legion of mercenary fighter pilots during a civil war.
- Mireille and Kirika of Noir have at least one mission in an unnamed Mideastern nation.
- Belgistan in Gasaraki.
- Full Metal Panic!!'s anime features the fictional country of Helmajistan, which was a bowdlerization — the novels use Afghanistan instead. The reasoning for this was because the original books were written before 9/11 and the War On Terror began. When the anime went into production, it was considered Too Soon to use Afghanistan, so a fictional substitute was used instead.
- Azadistan in Gundam 00. Azadistan is quite obviously Iran/Persia, from its location to its name (آزادستان, Persian for "land of freedom"). Gundam 00 also features a short-lived, war-torn Kurdish Republic on Azadistan's border. Which is more proof of Azadistan being a future version of Iran, since if a Kurdish nation were ever formed it would inherently be along the northwest border of Iran since that's where Kurds have lived for over a thousand years.
- The L4 Colonies (Home of Quatre and the Maganacs) from Gundam Wing
- Area 18, the unspecified Middle Eastern territory from Code Geass. It was on screen for such little time, though, that not much was shown aside from its desert location and stereotypically-dressed natives.
- It was named "The Middle-Eastern Federation" (and the characters actually call it this, at least in the subbed version) prior to its conquest by The Holy Empire of Britiannia. Presumably it was a composite of many otherwise real modern nations of the region.
- Also, it apparently had ideals involving equality and democracy, or at least the Emperor berated them and the EU in the same sentence for trying to pretend that all men are created equal, when class-system is clearly the right way to go.
- Planetes has Mananga, an oil-producing desert country torn by civil war. Hmmm.
- The Lupin III (Red Jacket) series has an episode take place in Cocodad; an impoverished desert nation of only three thousand people.
- Qurac, which ironically hasn't existed in AGES, having been wiped off the face of Earth by the assassin Cheshire, using nukes she stole and ultimately detonated for the evilulz.
- There is also Bialya (also wiped off the face of the Earth, during "52"), which was a stand-in for Syria and was heavily featured when JLA was JLI. And there's Umar (a thinly-veiled Iraq, complete with America-instigated war during the Joe Kelly JLA run). Not to mention Kahndaq (a more liberalized Egypt, ruled by Pharaonic Anti-Hero Black Adam).
- There's also Umec (acronym for "unamed Middle-Eastern country").
- One of the earliest DC examples is Syraq, dating back to 1988's Detective Comics #590. Twenty years before Frank Miller announced his "Batman fights Middle Eastern Terrorists" project.
- A certain country is obviously Iran in the initial print run of A Death in the Family, as a major plot point is the Diplomatic Impunity conferred on The Joker by Ayatollah Khomeni himself as part of a plot to gas the United Nations to death. (There is a reason why this chapter is not highly regarded.) Presumably the changed political climate necessitated a rapid Roman à Clef when the time came for reprints, and Syraq was conveniently substituted in.
- The Prestige one-shot Superpower featured two countries, Kirai and Vudistan, stand-ins for Iraq and Kurdistan. The former was invaded by JLA washout Antaeus, who assassinated the country's dictator.
- In the French more-or-less hard Sci-Fi comic Gipsy, there's a "Socialist Republic of Turdistan" in chapter #5.
- Meanwhile, the Marvel Universe has a Qurac in the form of Aqiria, the original home of the supervillain Fasaud (a Fantastic Four villain from the late 80's - not one of Steve Englehart's prouder moments). It receives much less page-time than European Latveria or African Wakanda.
- Khemed in The Adventures of Tintin is a Qurac invented to re-set scenes in Palestine once these scenes were no longer topical.
- Afbagistan is the fictional setting of Rick Veitch's scabrous War On Terror satire Army@Love
- Trucial Abysmia appeared in several issues of Marvel's G.I. Joe comics. As indicated in G.I.Joe Special Missions #18, it is located on the eastern coast of North Africa. It represents Middle-Eastern dictator-ruled countries in the region. It was involved in a conflict the neighboring emirate of Benzheen.
- Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool has a passing mention of Kuhlavi, ruled by the "desert lord" Haroun Zamahdi.
- The titular Pootweet in the Fat Freddy's Cat comic "The Sacred Sands of Pootweet".
- Lousdem in Quai D Orsay is a Middle Eastern dictatorship which the Bush administration intends to invade.
- Ben Hur had a few scenes of Arabia during Biblical Times / Ancient Rome time. Of particular note was Ilderim, a lusty, swaggering sheik who gleefully raised Arabian horses and cleverly mocked the Roman soldiers. It's his chariot that Heston is driving in the famous Chariot Race scene.
- Turaqistan, from War INC, is a Middle Eastern country occupied by an American private corporation run by a former US Vice-President.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade's Republic of Hatay could have count as an aversion because such a state actually existed in southern Turkey during the late 1930s, but it was nothing like the movie version. The Establishing Shot with the line "Republic of Hatay" clearly shows Stock Footage of the Hagia Sofia church/mosque in Istanbul during dawn and is immediately followed by a meeting between the bad guys and the Sultan of the country. Anybody gets what's wrong with that?
- Plus the city of Petra (used as the grail temple) is in Jordan.
- Iron Eagle pits a heroic kid pilot against the entire air force of the anonymous Middle Eastern country responsible for shooting down and holding his father for ransom.
- The sequel, Iron Eagle II, similarly uses an anonymous Middle Eastern nation that's developed covert nuclear weapons as the Big Bad.
- Jewel Of The Nile: The fictional country of Kadir is ruled by your typical tinpot dictator, and the insurgents trying to depose him look just like Mujahideen.
- Egypt and the (only mentioned) Derka-derkastan in Team America: World Police are depicted that way.
- Covert Assassin (you can tell a lot about it just from that title) involves a flight to "The Middle East". It never even specifies what country, suggesting the makers of the movie thought of the entire region as this trope.
- Midnight Express did this to Turkey, creating the whole "Turkish prison" cliché and ironing it on everyone's mind.
- The film Death Before Dishonor featured the nation of Jemal, where anti-American sentiment spills over into terrorist acts. Media studies professor Jack Shaheen wrote in his book, Reel Bad Arabs, that it ranked in the 4 most anti-Arab films of all time.
- Sacha Baron Cohen's latest movie, The Dictator, is about the dictator of the fictional Republic of Wadiya. The dictator, Admiral General Aladeen, is pretty much a combination of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Subverted somewhat in that we are shown where the country is, which is where Eritrea is in Real Life.
- 'Alif the Unseen'' takes place in a fictonal middle eastern country complete with rich emirs, veiled women, and extreme religious views.
- H. G. Wells has two short stories taking place in the middle east or Muslim Asia, one being an Arabian Nights-period morality tale with a premise clearly inspired by the story of the Taj Mahal, and the other being a bait-and-switch tale taking place in what at the time of writing was probably the perception of the "contemporary" Muslim world (possibly the Himalayas).
- Cat Among the Pigeons involves a hunt for royal jewels from the country of Ramat.
- Orson Scott Card's Empire makes use of one of these. An unnamed Muslim country is where the USA is doing some unauthorized that seems to be the Theme Park version of Afghanistan but is explicitly not Afghanistan.
- Christopher Buckley's Florence Of Arabia takes place in the fundamentalist Wasabia and the more westernized Matar
- The downtimer jihadists and their uptime recruiters in Time Scout are presented as Muslim extremists and rabid misogynists, all from an exploded time terminal in an undisclosed location in the middle east.
- Cataclysmic Horizons has the northeastern United States get taken over by a Type III regime that very quickly tries to ethnic-cleanse "Ameristan" of all non-Arabs and non-Muslims. It plays with Zombie Apocalypse tropes, using the Jihadists as a substitute for zombies.
- A long-running arc on The West Wing involved the fictional country of Qumar, noted for its strategically useful location for US military interests, its cruel treatment of women ("The Women of Qumar"), and the fact that the President ordered the assassination of its secretary of defense ("Posse Comitatus"), which eventually prompted the retaliatory kidnapping of his daughter ("Twenty Five").
- Qumar's relationship to the US is modeled closely on Saudi Arabia's, as are its human rights issues. Brief glimpses of maps in the situation room show Qumar is a small nation north of the Strait of Hormuz, bordered on all other sides by Iran.
- At the same time much of the West Wing is modeled on past events in the real world which Sorkin read about and fictionalised. One of the war room subplots, for example, was inspired by Clinton's bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, though in that case it was identified as being an attack on Syria.
- The West Wing also had 'Equatorial Kundu' which was undergoing a very African civil war.
- And ironically, despite having two fictional countries on the books, the series mocks a fictional Republican representative for not knowing that Freedonia is a fictional country.
- In Yes, Minister, Jim Hacker visits Qumran, a fictional Muslim country based on Pakistan — in fact, the scene where Hacker and his staff secretly consume alcohol was based on a real-life incident that happened on a British diplomatic visit to Pakistan.
- On another occasion a British nurse was sentenced to several lashes for possessing a bottle of whiskey, which provokes a miniature crisis as the government does not want to push too hard as the Qumranis are described as great friends of Britain, letting them know what the Soviets were up to in Iraq, allowing listening posts to be set up for Britain's use, and even sabotaging Opec agreements for them.
- Another possible Qurac in Yes, Minister is "The People's Democratic Republic of East Yemen". In reality Yemen was divided into the communist People's Republic of South Yemen and North Yemen (first the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen and then the Yemen Arab Republic).
- Qumran becomes Kumranistan in The Remake.
- Several of 24's Big Bads have come from Qurac. The show has also featured America attempting to start war on Qurac and its neighbours several times.
- The second season was particularly Egregious, only referring to the respective Quracs as "three Middle Eastern countries." Names for the countries on Television Without Pity ranged from "Isn'treal" to "Tofurkey."
- Season 8 gives us the Islamic Republic of Kamistan, which seems to be a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Iran, with Anil Kapoor as a reforming President.
- Although many missions took place in Ruritania or the Banana Republic, Mission: Impossible did venture into Qurac from time to time.
- The Poirot adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express included the stoning of a woman in 1934 Istanbul (which should be then at the height of Ataturk's westernization policies, no less) for seemingly no reason at all. Looks like Turkey can't just catch a break.
- Word of God is that it was intended to have Poirot thinking about how "the law" doesn't always mean justice, tying in to his decision at the end.
- Despite having several episodes taking place in the Middle East, JAG subverts this trope by always using real countries, no matter how unfavorable the portrayal may be.
- In Tyrant, the protagonist's father is the dictator of a fictional Middle-Eastern country called Abuddin.
- The music video for '80s new-wavers Blancmange's "Living On the Ceiling" was filmed in Egypt and features all the stereotypical money shots of riding camels at the pyramids, crowded bazaars, and dancing veiled harem girls. The song itself has a Mideastern-sounding beat as well as sitars (thus overlapping with Sim Sim Salabim).
- Shows up in the music video for R. Kelly's song "Snake"
- The Full Spectrum Warrior games use Zekistan, a Qurac setting for modern desert combat that lacks the real-world political aspects of Afghanistan or Iraq.
- Sonic the Hedgehog's adventures in the 1001 Nights, as seen in Sonic and the Secret Rings.
- Call of Duty 4 uses a nameless Middle Eastern country taken over by a violent, nuclear-armed and militarily aggressive regime as the setting for the first third of the game. The actual location of the country isn't made clear, as the pre-mission satellite photos jump from areas along the Red Sea suggesting Yemen, to the interior of Iran to the epicenter of a nuclear bomb's explosion in Kuwait. It also doesn't help that the country is described as being small, which doesn't make sense if it stretches from the Red Sea to the River Euphrates. Some of the missions actually seem to take place near Mecca, judging from the map. Leftover bits of old data on the disc indicate that the Qurac was going to be Saudi Arabia.
- Actually, given the general area and offhand mention of it being a former monarchy, it's very heavily implied to be Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government saw through and were less than amused.
- The final mission of Modern Warfare 3 takes place in the "Arabian Peninsula", but is very obviously meant to be Dubai.
- Averted in Modern Warfare 2 - a few missions are directly stated to take place in Afghanistan. Only one of them actually features you fighting against insurgents, though.
- Also averted in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which has campaign levels directly stated to take place in Afghanistan and Socotra Island, Yemen. In the former, you fight with the insurgents against the invading Soviet army (the level is set in 1986) while the latter first has you as a deep-cover operative in a terrorist cell and then a Navy SEAL, both of whom are trying to capture the Big Bad.
- The first Act of Metal Gear Solid 4 takes place in a war-torn desert country identified simply as "The Middle East". The "Moroccan Research Team" mentioned in the game's credits gives a clue as to which country this fictional place is based on.
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake takes place in Zanzibar Land located in central Asia. No clue why it was named after a real island off the eastern coast of equatorial Africa instead of something ending in -stan.
- A.S.P. Air Strike Patrol \ Desert Fighter has you fighting in Zaraq, against the Zaraqis, in 1991, where the dictator bears an uncanny resemblance to a Middle Eastern leader captured and executed in 2003.
- Not one but two Quracs feature in Strike Fighters, both as primary protagonist (USA-supported Dhimar—an Iraq) and antagonist (USSR-supported Paran—an Iran) states.
- Since EarthBound is an Affectionate Parody of American culture, one of the towns is built entirely on the Hollywood view of the Middle East: Scaraba! Complete with Kebab, snake merchants, and a short walk to the pyramids.
- The ARMA II expansion Operation Arrowhead has Takistan, a deliberate Played for Laughs Culture Chop Suey version of this trope.
- While all 3 countries of Neroimus in Chrome Hounds are Middle-Eastern, Sal Kar is definitely this trope.
- Battlefield 2 has you fighting against the "Middle Eastern Coalition", or MEC. While they seem to be based on Iraq heavily, they are never actually called that. The US and China don't get this treatment.
- Bad Company is even more blatant about the Iraq parallels, actually going so far as to have the MEC fly the Iraqi flag, as opposed to the made-up one from Battlefield 2.
- Battlefield 3 seems poised to buck the trend, though, with campaign missions explicitly set in Iran and Iraq, and with the MEC nowhere in sight (though the bad guys fought in said countries are still fictional).
- Command & Conquer: Generals had a Central Asian country called Aldastan with heavy GLA presence. Since the names of cities are real, it implies that Aldastan was formed from the breakup of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan rather than being a fully fictional country. Considering how unstable some Central Asian Republics are (Tajikistan being near the top), this example may turn Harsher in Hindsight in the near future.
- The first mission of Metal Slug 2 and Metal Slug X takes place in a Middle-Eastern town. They do have deadly weapons, though, as seen by the stage boss (a Cool Plane in 2 and a large-walking robot in X).
- The skyscraper in Mad TV contains, among many other things, an embassy for the republic of Duban, where sits a stereotypical Arabian sunglasses-wearing bearded guy in a white robe. The country can advertise itself as a tourist/oil drilling spot on your TV, and its embassy eventually gets bombed by a terrorist.
- The nations of North and South Azbaristan in JASF: Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters. The countries are named "Phrase-istan", North Azbaristan is a military dictatorship, the island they're on is mostly scrubby desert, and the voice-overs all have vaguely Arabic- or Persian-sounding accents.
- Parodied in this article on Cracked, where they sarcastically mention "Madeupbullshitistan".
- Combat operations in The Damn Few take place in or near The Damn FOB, Bumfuck, Iraqistan.
- Haganistan is located somewhere around this region, but its middle eastern/central asian features are not very aparent. It is a dictatorship, of course.
- The SCP Foundation has SCP-1173, The Islamic Republic of Eastern Samothrace. Which is either an example of Eskimos Aren't Real that convinces you it's a example of Qurac, or an example of Qurac that convinces you that its an example of Eskimos Aren't Real.
- Naturally, Agrabah in Disney's Aladdin is an Arabian Nights version of this trope. Doubly so as when the show was released in other countries, the writers were careful about name and design choices to not potentially offend anyone.
- In the source material, the story of Aladdin is set specifically in China. But since it's an Arabic folktale, and everyone in the story has Arabic names (the original storytellers presumably not being too familiar with the actual China), Disney moved it to Qurac.
- Transformers had the fictional state of — wait for it — Carbombya (Full Title: Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya) as a stand-in for then-newsworthy Libya. The country's main resources are oil and camels, its people frequently swear on the lives of their mother's livestock, and is ruled by a paranoid, egotistical dictator (whose similarities to Muammar Gaddafi are purely coincidental). The degree of racial/ethnic stereotyping in this case was so extreme that Lebanese-American voice actor Casey Kasem handed in his resignation, causing his most prominent character, Autobot computer Teletraan I, to be replaced by Frank Welker as the more advanced, visually identical, and different sounding Teletraan II.
- The Movie (2007) was much nicer about it even though Qatar looks absolutely nothing like the dirt-choked slum shown in the film: Scorponok's attack was ended by a phone call to a nearby base from a little town in Qatar.
- Stewie and Brian once accidentally ended up in a version of Qurac in Family Guy.
- On The Venture Bros., the space station Gargantua-1 landed in "Iranistan". It crashed straight into a secret hideout where all the world's terrorist leaders were meeting.
- Inspector Gadget featured several fictional Middle Eastern countries; Alpacastan (there are no llamas in the Middle east, damn it!), Pianostan, etc.
- The Young Justice version of Qurac is, surprisingly, not this trope, but apparently a fairly developed country with a democratically elected leader, and also apparently contains a savanna region that resembles Tanzania or Kenya (despite an in-universe map◊ indicating that Qurac is Jordan and Bialya is Iraq). However, its neighbor Bialya, ruled by the Mind Controlling supervillainess Queen Bee, fits much better.
- Even Bialya somewhat subverts the stereotypes associated with Qurac. It has a highly-advanced military whose firepower and organization threatens even a team of (admittedly young) superheroes!
- They are apparently equipped with modern first-line U.S. army weaponry up to and including M1 tanks and Predator Drones armed with miniguns for some reason. That's not to mention that their queen is a woman who a) appears to be black rather than arab/middle eastern and b) tends to dress rather stripperifically.
- One episode of Sonic Underground featured Tashistan, a desert country with clear Middle Eastern architecture and a currency consisting of "dinars" and "rials" (which are both real currencies used in real Middle-Eastern countries). If memory serves correct, it's ruled by a Sultan, and this being Sonic Underground, it's a rather poverty-stricken place. At one point Sonic and Manic cross-dress as stereotypical Middle-Eastern dancers for...some reason or another.
- Code Monkeys had Khakistan, whose population is 90% terrorists (according to text at the top of the screen), and the main export was khaki pants (which grow on cacti), and whose leader, King Huj Asman had kidnapped Dave and Todd (believing Todd to be Jerry) as to make games for the ImpalaVision consoles he stole to corner the market (as the US had pants subsidies, allowing The Gap to flood the market with cheap knockoffs, causing Kakhistan's economy to suffer; yeah, it's that kinda show). However, the Game-A-Vision staff manages to rescue them in time before the US bombs the hell out of the country (having thought that they had stolen the consoles to make a supercomputer that was capable of targeting the greatest infidel cities of the West; Dave had thought that too, only to have Asman to dimiss that as being "crazy" and then introduce his real plan). Also, they used to have magic and flying carpets, but the Jews somehow "stole their magic" (according to Asman)
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a nearly throw-away reference to a foreign land called Saddle Arabia. Nothing is really known about it apart from its name and it being a different country from Equestria, but two its ambassadors are briefly seen: they wear pony-clothing quite clearly inspired by the Arabian Nights aesthetic. Interestingly enough they are much taller and slenderer than Equestrian ponies: nearly as tall as Princess Celestia.
- In Tony Blair's memoirs, he recalls a visit to Pakistan where on the way from Islamabad Airport to the city he saw people on the embankment, men in white robes and veiled women. This despite the fact that there is 1) no embankment anywhere near the route, it is pretty much an expressway almost all the way, 2) that Pakistani men do not wear white "robes" like Arabs do (shalwar khameez on the other hand...) and Pakistani women do not usually wear a veil and especially not in the region where Islamabad is located (head-covering scarves, on the other hand...). They might not have been native Pakistanis but rather visitors from Saudi Arabia or Yemen, but it has been noted by the field of psychology that, dispositions notwithstanding, the brain is a very generous organ; when there is need, it will supply.
- Following the 2010-2011 protests in Tunisia (resulting in the resignation of President Ben Ali and dissolution of the current administration), a specific interview had one protest leader quoted as demanding certain democratic ideals from the incoming government, most of all "...national dignity! We are not a Bananas [sic] Republic!"
- During the Republican primary race in 2011, Herman Cain was asked a question about his knowledge of foreign policy; his joke answer included the country of "Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" in reference to Uzbekistan, where Hillary Clinton was visiting at the time.
- United States Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs at universities involve planning operations in an area that includes the edges of the Middle East and the Caucasus. Maps tend to show that the United States Army was not particularly creative in renaming the countries: the most creative was turning Azerbaijan into "Atropia" (and that was the only country that didn't have its capital city renamed or misspelled) and calling Turkey "Kemalia" (the man who is considered to be the father of the modern state of Turkey was named Mustafa Kemal); other than that, they don't go much further than rearranging the letters and adding or removing one or two letters.
- Still doing better than the British Army's Land Warfare Centre, where operations are planned on maps of Salisbury Plain training area...titled "Wessexstan'', and where ground briefs always describe the prominent "Avon Wadi"...